Newest Group of Ridazz: The LAPD

Traditionally, small groups of bike riders from around the city gather together on the fourth Friday of the month and head to the Wilshire/Western Red Line Station to gather for Los Angeles Critical Mass.  This month, following what Streetsblog is calling the "Critical Mass Attack," a new group of riders will be joining the mass: the LAPD.

In a flyer being circulated to bike advocates and within the department, the LAPD has announced that it will be joining the June 25th Los Angeles Critical Mass to both show their support for the rights of cyclists to ride peacably in a large group, be the purpose party or protest; and to help weed out the riders responsibile for the vandalism and other mischief that’s given Critical Mass a bad name.

It’s been a common complaint amongst cyclists that some people use group rides as camoflauge for law breaking.  For months, the popular Midnight Ridazz forum was filled with complaints about a group of bike thieves from Koreatown that would join rides starting in Mid-Wilshire and use the ride as an cover to vandalize, steal, and tag.  In addition to giving the rides a bad name, riders were frustrated that the police would deem a whole ride as troublesome without listening to the riders who tried to point out the culprits.  This seems especially true of the March 2009 "Crank Mob" ride where a small group of riders shoplifted from a Ralph’s on La Brea, a few more got drunk, and a massive conflict between the LAPD and the Mob broke out.

This flyer should also put to rest the idea that Critical Mass and other group rides are somehow an illegal assemblage.  The LAPD flyer states clearly that it supports cyclists rights to protest and ride together in large groups.

How will the LAPD and Critical Mass coexist together on one ride?  There’s precedence for a mutually beneficial relationship, the SFPD and San Francisco Critical Mass have ridden together for years, and the LAPD has sent bike cops to other group rides, albeit much tamer ones, such as the Tour De Ballona rides co-sponsored by L.A. Streetsblog.

However, the devil will be in the details, and Streetsblog will be there to cover the ride as it happens.  For the first time since my son was born, I’ll be hopping on Gunpower and riding Critical Mass myself with camera, flip vid, and cell phone all ready to go.

  • Stephen

    That’s quite awesome! I used to have a CM out here in the Inland Empire. But I ended up letting it die because of the miscreants who would steal from the various bike shops we started from. :-/

  • borfo

    I hope cyclists feel comfortable to turn up in large numbers for this and represent peacefully and responsibly. I say it’s a good sign for the future of bikes in LA. Police showing a supportive manner, rather than an antagonistic way, is what we need.

  • Gina

    I hope that the LAPD realizes that if we don’t cork the intersections that we will be waiting at red AND GREEN lights for the entire ride to catch up, so whomever in in cars behind the ride will have a bit of a wait, corking is better becasue it distributes the wait time of car traffic evenly to cars behind, and cars intersecting, if we don’t cork then all the car behind us will bear the full brunt of having to wait.

    That is why corking the intersections and ‘running the red light’ to keep the ride together is a far better option for keeping the traffic flowing.

  • borfo

    What Gina said is an important issue that group rides have to face. Corking red lights is more cohesive for the group to stay together. However, what if we were to stop at every red light and just let the ride disperse? It will still be a ride, and we will be still demonstrating our rights to ride on the streets. Perhaps it’s even a more effective way to show that this is a decent way to commute around town.

    I’m open to explore how that will affect the ride as we are part of traffic. As long as we know where we are going people can catch up. This is something to consider deciding at the start of each ride. If we have a destination to get to, we can all ride there in different ways and it will still be a group ride effort. Self reliance and common sense is important in these days and times.

    I’m hoping we can continue this discussion regarding the question of there being a need of corking and encouraging stopping at red lights when necessary.

  • Soder

    Corking is a necessity? What a bunch of BS. Bikers are considered vehicles and they should be treated as such. If a bunch of people are caravaning in their cars, they can’t cork an intersection to stay together.

  • borfo

    re: Soder’s post.

    See what I mean? Let’s just give them what they want and plug up traffic even more by stopping at every red light. It will be brilliant. And it will be legal at the same time. Critical Mass lives on and even more safely and effectively. Pass it on.

  • palucha

    I cant wait to see the look on some peoples faces. Mostly the ones that always say F the Police

  • rev.DAK

    The last time the LAPD rode Critical Mass they corked arbitrarily, yelled and bullied slow riders to “KEEP UP.” They were bossy, not supportive. It’s a police presence, period. Without corking, the ride will be completely fractured to the point of irrelevance. Stoplights aren’t timed for bikes, much-less timed for groups of bikes – SOMEONE WILL RUN A RED LIGHT and the SOMEONE WILL GET A TICKET.

  • Wait… isn’t the whole point to BE traffic?

    I don’t think that following traffic laws makes the demise of Critical Mass inevitable. There’s got to be ways for group rides to happen without corking red lights. Other rides have functioned without having to cork major intersections, it just takes a little common sense (like regrouping at a large parking lot, for instance).

    Sure, maybe the rides will be a little different, maybe some smaller groups of riders will be more apt to separate from the main group and go do their own thing. Still, it’s bikes in the streets, bikes as a social force, bikes as part of the community.

    Then again, maybe some people feel that civil disobedience is an integral part of Critical Mass. I’m not necessarily opposed to civil disobedience, but it is, by definition, illegal.

  • borfo

    Civil Disobedience has to do with right and obligation to follow your conscience. (in the Thoreau sense of the term.)

    Critical Mass has to do with riding your bike on the road with other people to demonstrate your right to do so. (hopefully while following the rules of the road)

    They are both totally different things. (but that doesn’t mean they don’t happen together.)

  • I feel that my experience the past 4 years leading scores of rides – Borfo’s got it right.

    You need a destination, a mega phone to let people know what’s up, and then let the ride commence. Stoppoing at stop signs is absurd, but stop lights are no big deal.

    A loose group of riders can make this work on the fly. It will turn every street into bike street, and it will allow so much more than parading around in one chaotic mass will allow.

  • Joseph E

    Ubrayj, are you suggesting that people should take multiple route to the same destination, or just that they should be free to spread out along the way?

    I’ve never been in a big ride myself. Riding my bike places I need to go seems sensible to me. But it does sound like fun. I found myself thinking about this earlier comment:

    “What if we were to stop at every red light and just let the ride disperse? It will still be a ride, and we will be still demonstrating our rights to ride on the streets. Perhaps it’s even a more effective way to show that this is a decent way to commute around town.”

    Sounds good to me. I see no reason to “cork” intersections run red lights, unless the ride is planned in advance and approved by the city, like a parade. Bikes are transportation, and should follow reasonable traffic rules.

  • borfo

    I am not sure if the LAPD is going to cork the roads for us like a parade or not. However, I and many others are in agreement with trying to persuade everyone with the planned destination and stop at all reds concept. I’m not sure if the LAPD will know how do deal with that, but I’d like us to try this new approach on June 25th. Flyers will be distributed and announcements will be made at the beginning of the ride. I’m all about transforming Critical Mass to be more positive and effective in the eyes of the public. I can’t hurt to try. Happy Friday!

  • Ross Hirsch

    Joseph E, I hope you can come out. If you enjoy riding, and enjoy doing it with a sense of camaraderie, safety, obligation, and the rules of the road, then I can assure you it will be enjoyable. It always has been for me.

    In response to your first question, the idea that seems to be gaining momentum is:

    -A destination will be announced at the start of the ride (Fri, June 25th, Wilshire/Western @ 7 pm). There will be no set route to get there. Anyone can use any street, group up with whomever they choose, or simply follow any one of the hundreds of cyclists that will also be heading in that general direction. I’m sure it will be significant enough a destination that it won’t be hard to find, and many people will know how to get there–so riders can just ask around if they’re curious.

    -Run red lights? Stop at stop signs? Obviously the choice is up to each individual rider at each intersection–knowing that if you do so you are at the simplest violating the law and subjecting yourself to a ticket, and on the other end of the spectrum, subjecting yourself to a potentially dangerous situation. This is always the case–regardless of whether LAPD is riding along, watching from afar, or nowhere in sight–or whether you are riding solo or with 10, 1000, or 1000 people.

    Ride on the right-hand side of the road, into the lane of oncoming traffic? That’s just stupid and has so many negative consequences it need not be further discussed.

    Ride two, three, more abrest? There’s no CA law mandating that cyclists must ride single file or prohibiting riding next to your buddy so you can talk it up. True, the CVC says that cyclists should ride as close to the right as practicable if moving slower than the speed of traffic, but bikes on roads are traffic, so this one will depend on cyclist discretion as sharers of the road with larger (cars, busses) and sometimes smaller (peds) objects. Cars will want to pass–and some are rather jerky about it. I’d rather let them go on their way and get out of mine so I can go on enjoying myself.

    Personally, I’m looking forward to this next phase of LA Critical Mass. It can be a “game changer,” hopefully for the better, as stated in the LAist piece from yesterday. I thank the original creators of the concept from back in the 1990s, love the permutations, feelings, and movement(s) it has spawned, and am stoked to see the potential that this new concept can bring. I’d love it if on the next Critical Mass my wife and kids and maybe a fried or two that have a bit hesitant to jump on a bike and ride on streets will come on out, too. That might really begin to change things.

  • Allan

    To the OP, CM is on the last Friday of the month, not the 4th Friday.

    Soder –
    If a bunch of people are caravaning in their cars, they can’t cork an intersection to stay together.

    They do if they’re in a funeral.

    Regarding all the rosy warm and fuzzy feelings about the LAPD joining CM, you guys are dreaming! These guys can’t even control themselves when a lawful rider rides by them! How much you think things changed in a month? The riders last month weren’t thieves, a criminal threat, drinking in public, smoking weed, riding under the influence, running red lights, or crossing the center line. When you look at the riders that were the major subjects in the video from last month CM. Which were the person being arrested, the person riding by the officer, and the person recording the arrest, were doing everything legal except for the one being arrested for having no lights. Until the LAPD bone up to their screw ups and work at changing policy, you’ll continue to have these screw ups. So far I haven’t seen any word about taking responsibility for the screw up in Hollywood. So far it’s damage control mode for the LAPD.

    In regards to setting out a destination to ride to, have you guys even read how CM is run? Little more than the start and time is advertised for CM.


    Critical Mass differs from many other social movements in its rhizomal (rather than hierarchical) structure. Critical Mass is sometimes called an “organized coincidence”, with no leadership or membership. The routes of some rides are decided spontaneously by whoever is currently at the front of the ride, while others are decided prior to the ride by a popular vote of suggested routes often drawn up on photocopied flyers. The term xerocracy was coined to describe a process by which the route for a Critical Mass can be decided: anyone who has an opinion makes their own map and distributes it to the cyclists participating in the Mass. Still other rides decide the route by consensus.

    Get it? It’s done by consensus.

    Finally my warm fuzzy feel good scenario would be the officers corking and keeping the ride together. Fat chance of that happening. I’m betting just about everyone of them that show up hadn’t even heard of the word “corking”.

  • borfo

    Good ol’ Al! – (a LACM legend)

    Critical Mass is open to interpretation. You do it your way, I’ll do it mine.

    A lot of others are going to be trying this too. Maybe you’ll change your mind.

  • borfo

    Oh, and by the way. The decisions WILL be made by consensus. Ideas of a destination will be made at the start. The idea of following the parade or “Civil Obedience” will be your own choice.

    Solidarity, man.

  • roadblock

    I know Sgt Krumer and he’s a good guy. He gets it. Let’s give the LAPD a chance.

    If we get a huge turnout, and obey the laws this WILL be epic. “Civil Obedience” is what this is called, and whoever said the lights aren’t time for bikes is tripping. The lights are perfect for bikes going at about 12-15 mph.

  • borfo


  • roadblock

    and they Daylight Crawlazz have been around for a few years now…

  • Allan

    Yes borfo, there’s at least one person on this thread that has been riding the LACM. You remember the last time you were on it?

    I don’t have a problem with decisions being made by consensus. I do have a problem when statements such as “-A destination will be announced at the start of the ride (Fri, June 25th, Wilshire/Western @ 7 pm).” are made. Frankly I believe this is the reason CM has remained vibrant after all these years. Cause there isn’t individuals controlling this ride. There’s something appealing to the ones that don’t seem to fit in with other social rides.

    And I’m glad to see you agree with my other points. :-)

  • borfo

    You are right. Let me correct myself by saying that there are a number of growing supporters that will be encouraging to cooperatively come up with a destination at the ride start. We will also be encouraging all to stop at all red lights in order to demonstrate we are legally responsible traffic.

    Also, I have been on LACM numerous times, as well as SFVCM. The last time I was on LACM was last year when we rode to the ghost bike in echo park.

    I respect your opinions as a member of the community and I am encouraging you to digest and consider mine (as well as many others). I do think we are on the same page here. Can you support this concept I’d like others to adopt on their own volition. CM is leaderless. The police will be present. What will it hurt to try this idea?

  • Ross

    Not sure whether I know you or not, Allan, but it’s good to read your posts. Let me clarify so as not to offend–but I’m not sure what you really have the problem with–even after re-reading your post because I don’t see the quoted statement about the announcement of a destination (with which you do have a problem with) as being mutually exclusive from “decisions being made by consensus” (with which you don’t have a problem with).

    Certainly *I* will not be making THE decision as to a destination. Nor do I believe Borfo will. Nor do I believe Roadblock will. I don’t think any *one* person or small group of people will. Apologies if that was unclear. I’m sure people would envision there being a consensus arrived at at the start of the ride amongst those who are interested in chiming in.

    I don’t have a problem with that concept. Do you? If that is so contrary to the intent of Critical Mass then (1) crap, we’ve been doing it all wrong for a while now, and (2) who really cares in the big picture anyway.

    Seems that a new dawn is upon us (which we can thank, for better or worse, the LAPD and their announcement that they would like to join in the ride in some capacity and the events that lead up to that–of which there are many), and it seems the time is right to at least try to shake things up for the betterment of everyone.

  • borfo
  • Allan

    OK Ross, I re-read your post and at first I thought you made some kind of an announcement that there was destination planned. My bad. I really don’t care what is decided on, as long as it’s made with a consensus. They could be voting to not allow old guys on the ride for all I care.

    You got one thing right, this is a new chapter for LACM. We’ll have to wait and see if its a positive or negative one. I hope we get over a 1000 riders. That’s small potatoes to SD and SF, but you gotta start somewhere.


    At the ride start of the upcoming LA Critical Mass on June 25th, there will be a faction of people, including myself, who will be encouraging something we are currently calling, “Project Civil Obedience”, in which all cyclists will demonstrate what it means for 1000+ riders to obey all road rules. That includes stopping at every red light. We will also be encouraging mass riders to cooperate in choosing a destination to ride to so that they can reunite if they get separated by red lights from the main group. The plan will be to get to the destination within 45 minutes (a reasonable riding time frame).

    If everyone participates in this idea by consensus, the result will be that all participants will be free to travel in any direction they need to reach the destination. Some groups may get broken up by red lights. However, we will all be demonstrating that WE ARE TRAFFIC by following all road rules to the LAPD and the rest of the public.

    There may be some old school traditionalist Critical Mass veterans that may be opposed to this idea. However, CM was designed to be improved cooperatively. There are no leaders here, just a mass of riders who are working together to improve the image and effect that CM can have in our city.

    Please pass this cooperative idea along, join in encouraging others at the ride, or contribute to the discussion here and on other forums.

    See you at Los Angeles Critical Mass!

  • Ross Hirsch

    Borfo’s comment just above is critical information. Thanks for putting that out there.

    Editor: Any way to make that into a separate stand-alone post to get it disseminated to the widest group as possible?

  • Malby

    “Critical Mass has to do with riding your bike on the road with other people to demonstrate your right to do so.” Riding to demonstrate your right to do so? Seems like doing it other than rush hour Friday could demonstrate that too. And can I drive through red lights in a group of cars to demonstrate my right to drive?

  • Have a look at my response.

  • borfo

    Ridazz express thanks toward the LAPD –


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